The Haus is Berlin’s newest attraction, and it can only be described as one of these things that only happen in the German Capital. We say this because over 150 artists were invited to turn a disused bank into a temporary gallery for street art. Every room becomes a piece of art, and there are paintings, tags, sculptures and graffiti spread over five floors. But… Everything will only last until demolition day.
We arrived at The Haus on a windy Saturday afternoon. The first thing we saw was a large H on the side of a building. The second thing we saw was a long queue that seemed to go around the block. After a moment of panic, we discovered that the queue is for those who didn’t schedule a tour and happiness came to us again.
We first heard about The Haus on its opening day. Something popped up on Twitter about a disused bank in Schöneberg that would be turning into a temporary street art gallery place, and we knew we needed to visit the place. We scheduled a tour, but we didn’t know how fantastic the place would be. We only discovered on Saturday, and this is why we’re writing this right now.
The Haus mixes English and German in a way that we are used to seeing around Berlin. Inside the building, there are 80 rooms that were transformed into pieces of art by more than 150 artists. Too bad it will only last from early April to the end of May 2017. But nobody there seemed sad about the ephemeral side of this art project. It appears that they are excited about the destruction of The Haus and their artwork inside. The destruction is what they want, and this is why you have to go there as soon as possible.
At first, it seems that this is just another street art gallery with tags, graffiti and some cool paintings around. But The Haus is much more than that. Sometimes it can be too much, too overwhelming at points. But it’s still amazing.
How did The Haus come to exist?
During the tour, we learned that Die Dixons, a street art group based in Berlin, are the ones to be blamed about The Haus. The story that we heard says that they learned through friends that Pandion, a developer from Cologne that bought a bank in Schöneberg, was looking for some creative ideas for this space before it got demolished. The first thing that Pandion tried to do was offering the space for some startups that didn’t like the idea of setting up offices in a place that would be gone in less than a year.
This is where Die Dixons thought it could work for them. They presented an idea that mixed urban street art and invited their friends to put the idea into place. The concept is to bring together the street art scene in Berlin and, at the same time, present a future model for projects that aim to keep Berlin’s street art culture alive among the fast development of the city. And it works extremely well based on the response we keep reading online and the queue that we found there on Saturday we visited the place.
Some people might say that this is a way of using street art to promote new developments in Berlin. To that, we heard that this is how cooperations need to work. The artists get the space to promote street art for a huge audience, and Pandion uses it as a marketing strategy. Everybody wins, but this is a particular case. We heard that most of the artists only accepted this offer because the building used to be a bank. If it were a residential building where people had to leave it for fancy flats, The Haus wouldn’t exist.
During our visit, we fell in love with many rooms, but we couldn’t take pictures of anything inside. When we entered The Haus, we were told that this happens to make it sure that everybody there is in there enjoying the art. “Don’t look at the world through your phone” was the explanation we heard. That’s another part of the experience inside. You’re surrounded by art everywhere, and there’s nothing else to look at.
This makes The Haus feels like a massive art installation where every door that you open guides you into a different world. And those worlds are fantastic.
How can you visit The Haus before it’s gone?
We know that The Haus is going to be legendary. The Haus will be one of these places that you need to tell your friends that you have been there. Like a glimpse of something that could only happen in Berlin. Too bad it will only last from early April to the end of May 2017.
Based on our visit, our advice to you is to schedule one of the many tours that they have there, pay the 10$ and skip the queue. We thought it would be better to listen to the tour and learn everything about the place, the building and how will it end. Maybe you can even ask for the same tour guide that we had. From what we learned, her visit is unique. Ask for Virginia, and if a small blonde woman gets to the door, you did everything right.
If you don’t want to spend any money, you can just go to the front of the place and pray that there will be no queue there. This way you can explore the place on your own and on your own time. Some people might like this, but we’d advise anybody to get the tour.
If you want to keep a piece of The Haus, you should do like we did and buy the book. The pictures above was taken from it. Inside the book you will find pictures of every room, information about the artists and the concept behind everything. It costs 30$, and it’s more than worth it. And you can only get it at The Haus!
Nürnberger Straße 68 / 69
10787 – Schöneberg
Berlin – Germany